Saturday, April 9, 2016
The dark spirit of the library stairs struck again today. In the back room we heard the terrible scream. We rushed out. And there at the foot of our treacherous staircase lay another mangled body. No blood this time. This one went down four stairs hard, more or less feet first, thankfully, but, alas, not straight, and now her foot seemed to be on backwards. That may sound fanciful, but no, that's a fair description. In my minor role I got a good look while conveying some message to the assistant manager, who was tending to the patron. The Paramedics came and removed her shoe. And there it was, a backwards foot, which might not sound like too much until one starts thinking about what it might be like to have such a thing out at the end of one's leg.
I imagined comforting the injured patron. "Don't worry, you're gonna be okay. It's not nearly as bad as the last person who fell down the stairs. So much blood! Then she died! Of course, she seemed okay when she left the library."
Then I might add "You know what? Never mind."
Like most institutions my library can be erratic in its reactions to things. One man smells so bad people are gagging throughout the whole wing of the library he's in. He leaves a wake of unusable, pee-stained chairs behind him, and we consider ourselves helpless in the face of it. But another man has a tendency to remove his shoes over in the chair he likes to sit in and we clamp down hard, insisting that he meet our shoe standard. We might shut down half the library to protect a few minor pieces of technology during some power problems, but drag our feet when the weather sirens go off. And so some minor leak may be cordoned off in a wide, dramatic fashion, whereas the staircase is free to go on maiming people with impunity.
Ah well, fair enough. How do you fix a staircase anyway? Even as it feels oddly dangerous when one walks down it, it's hard to understand exactly why that staircase is dangerous. Perhaps it is all as it should be. Upstairs is the whole of our traditional library collection, all of the fiction and non fiction adult books. So yes, you may be crippled or killed in your pursuit of enlightenment at my library. But then there is always a risk that must be taken in the pursuit of knowledge.